Session beer weekend: American Pale and ESB

I brewed two quick and easy beers a few weeks back: a pale ale and an ESB. The pale ale was designed specifically to grow up some Cal Ale yeast, and the ESB is just because I like bitters, and I wanted another one in the pipeline.

Recipe: 2012 Pale Ale w/Victory
Style: 10A-American Ale-American Pale Ale

Recipe Overview

Wort Volume Before Boil: 6.08 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 5.28 US gals
Volume Transferred: 5.28 US gals
Water Added: 0.00 US gals
Volume At Pitching: 5.28 US gals
Final Batch Volume: 5.02 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.045 SG
Expected OG: 1.052 SG
Expected FG: 1.013 SG
Expected ABV: 5.3 %
Expected ABW: 4.1 %
Expected IBU (using Daniels): 35.2
Expected Color: 7.3 SRM
Apparent Attenuation: 74.9 %
Mash Efficiency: 75.0 %
Boil Duration: 90.0 mins
Fermentation Temperature: 64 degF

Fermentables
UK Pale Ale Malt 8lb 0oz (80.0 %) In Mash/Steeped
German Wheat Malt 1lb 0oz (10.0 %) In Mash/Steeped
US Victory Malt 1lb 0oz (10.0 %) In Mash/Steeped

Hops
US Columbus(Tomahawk) (13.0 % alpha) 0.50 oz Loose Pellet Hops used First Wort Hopped
US Cascade (4.5 % alpha) 2.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used 1 Min From End

Other Ingredients

Yeast: Wyeast 1056-American Ale

Mash Schedule
Mash Type: Full Mash
Schedule Name:Stepped Infusion (35-50-65C/95-122-149F) w/Mash Out
Step: Rest at 95 degF for 30 mins
Step: Raise by direct heating to 122 degF for 20 mins
Step: Rest at 122 degF for 30 mins
Step: Raise by direct heating to 149 degF for 20 mins
Step: Rest at 149 degF for 30 mins
Step: Raise to and Mash out at 165 degF for 10 mins

Recipe Notes

========

Recipe: 2012 Extra Special Bitter

Recipe Overview

Wort Volume Before Boil: 7.75 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 5.50 US gals
Volume Transferred: 5.00 US gals
Water Added: 0.00 US gals
Volume At Pitching: 5.00 US gals
Final Batch Volume: 5.00 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.041 SG
Expected OG: 1.058 SG
Expected FG: 1.015 SG
Expected ABV: 5.7 %
Expected ABW: 4.5 %
Expected IBU (using Daniels): 27.5
Expected Color: 11.6 SRM
Apparent Attenuation: 73.0 %
Mash Efficiency: 80.0 %
Boil Duration: 60.0 mins
Fermentation Temperature: 64 degF

Fermentables
UK Pale Ale Malt 8lb 0oz (74.0 %) In Mash/Steeped
German Wheat Malt 2lb 0oz (18.5 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Dark Crystal 8.00 oz (4.6 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Medium Crystal 4.00 oz (2.3 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Chocolate Malt 1.00 oz (0.6 %) In Mash/Steeped

Hops
US Willamette (4.5 % alpha) 1.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used First Wort Hopped
US Willamette (4.5 % alpha) 1.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used 25 Min From End
US Willamette (4.5 % alpha) 2.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used At turn off
US Nugget (11.5 % alpha) 1.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used At turn off

 

Other Ingredients

Yeast: Wyeast 1318-London Ale III
Mash Schedule
Mash Type: Full Mash
Schedule Name:Single Step Infusion (66C/151F)
Step: Rest at 151 degF for 60 mins

Recipe Notes

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Brewday recap: Dark Lambic #2 (pLambic) with Turbid Mash

DSCN2243This post is long overdue, but needed to be written. The weekend immediately following Lambic #1, I prepped a second wort for a sour pitch. I had an ECY20 pitch sitting in the fridge that needed to be put to work.

I made a starter several days before, as the yeast had been refrigerated for 2 months. The starter took off right away, and had a much funkier (barnyard) smell than the ECY01 did. This would prove to carry over to the primary fermentation as well.
DSCN2248After some serious waffling and consulting, I decided to brew a darker wort than the first lambic, and also to give it a little more food. I still followed the turbid mash technique, and used a good bit of unmalted wheat. What I’m hoping for is a wort profile similar to an Oud Bruin, but with a much more complex flavor profile due to the microorganism cocktail from Easy Coast Yeast.
DSCN2246I filled my brew kettle to the rim as with the previous batch, and there was so much wort that I actually needed to boil it down some before I could add all the second runnings. Partly why I got such a high efficiency, but also makes for a really long boil (and uses a lot of propane).

Recipe: 2012 Dark Lambic

Recipe Overview

Wort Volume Before Boil: 9.00 US gals
Volume At Pitching: 5.50 US gals
Final Batch Volume: 5.02 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.045 SG
Expected OG: 1.074 SG
Expected FG: 1.021 SG
Expected ABV: 7.1 %
Expected ABW: 5.5 %
Expected IBU (using Daniels): 24.4
Expected Color: 14.4 SRM
Mash Efficiency: 90.0 %
Boil Duration: 180.0 mins
Fermentation Temperature: 68 degF

Fermentables
UK Pale Ale Malt 7lb 0oz (56.6 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Unmalted Soft White Wheat 3lb 0oz (24.2 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Munich Malt 1lb 0oz (8.1 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Light Crystal 8.00 oz (4.0 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Dark Crystal 8.00 oz (4.0 %) In Mash/Steeped
Caramel Munich Malt 4.00 oz (2.0 %) In Mash/Steeped
German Chocolate Wheat Malt 2.00 oz (1.0 %) In Mash/Steeped

Hops
UK Challenger (2.7 % alpha) 2.40 oz Loose Whole Hops used All Of Boil

Other Ingredients

Yeast: ECY20 – Bug County 2011

Mash Schedule
Mash Type: Turbid Mash

Notes:
DSCN2249The primary fermentation happened fairly quickly, and there’s now some lingering bubbles on the surface, along with a very barnyard-y smell from the airlock. Time to put it away and forget about it for a good, long while. I will be adding oak in a couple of months, but there’s really no rush on that at all.

Brewday recap: Lambic #1 (pLambic) with Turbid Mash

Last weekend, on MLKJr day, I brewed my first lambic. Technically it was a pseudo-lambic (or pLambic) because I pitched a culture rather than letting nature inoculate the wort.
DSCN2216There are many ways to get a souring culture, one of the most common is to buy a bottle of lambic beer that isn’t pasturized, and grow up a culture from the bottle dregs. I went a different route, largely due to the overwhelming popularity of the results. I bought a pitch from East Coast Yeast of Al’s BugFarm 5 (the 2011 variant) and made a starter.

Making a pLambic isn’t necessarally super hard, you can do a regular infusion mash and just pitch a mixed culture to make a sour beer, but after reading Wild Brews and nagging Michael Tonsmeire. for advice on a number of occasions leading up to brewday, I decided to make it in as traditional a manner as possible, which most importantly includes a turbid mash.

If you want to know all there is to know about a turbid mash, I’d recommend you read Michael Tonsmeire’s article, and then proceed to Wild Brews. In a nutshell though, it’s a specific mash process that leaves a significant portion of the starches from your cereal grains as they are, which sets them aside to be food for the non-brewer’s yeast to tear apart and eat over the 1-3 year fermentation cycle. A traditional mash breaks them down into simpler sugars, so that brewer’s yeast can easily convert them to alcohol and other by-products.

OK. So, I was a little anxious about the turbid mash, because it was a deviation from the process that I know so well, so I referred to Michael Tonsmeire’s website, Wild Brews, and a third article by the Cult of the Biohazard Lambic Brewers in order to make myself a spreadsheet, outlining the various infusions and runoffs. I was able to move through these steps on brewday fairly flawlessly, with the exception that there’s one step towards the end, where it would be handy to have a third pot and second burner. Oh well, minor delay. If you want to know what steps I followed, read Michael Tonsmeire’s article, he has the same steps all laid out with photos.
DSCN2236The boil is where this really becomes a drag. Due to the high volume of water used in the mash process, you end up with a 9-10 gallon pre-boil volume, which can take a really long time to boil down. I have a Bayou Country propane burner, and it took me about 4 hours to get to my final volume.
DSCN2226

Hop selection is also of concern when making a pLambic — you don’t want to use high-alpha hops for bittering, even if you only use enough to hit your 20 or so IBUs — you want to use low-alpha hops that have ideally been aged a few years to have even less bittering power. I used 4 year old Challenger hops, that I calculated to be at 2.7%AA. And as the books say, yes, they do smell like cheesy, smelly feet. I put them in the boil early to make sure that I blasted out all the smell and flavor.
DSCN2240

Fermentation was fairly mellow, and it seemed to finish it’s primary phase in 4 days. The krausen has now fallen, and I’m sure the secondary microorganisms are now taking over the show. I’ll post some followup photos here as things change, I know it’s going to be a long process.

Recipe: 2012 Lambic #1
Style: 17D-Sour Ale-Straight (Unblended) Lambic

Wort Volume Before Boil: 10.50 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 6.25 US gals
Volume Transferred: 5.50 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.032 SG
Expected OG: 1.053 SG
Expected FG: 1.015 SG
Expected ABV: 5.0 %
Expected IBU (using Daniels): 19.2
Expected Color: 3.9 SRM
Mash Efficiency: 98.0 %

Fermentables
UK Pale Ale Malt 6lb 12oz (71.1 %) In Mash/Steeped
US Flaked Soft Red Wheat 2lb 12oz (28.9 %) In Mash/Steeped

Hops
UK Challenger (2.7 % alpha) 2.00 oz Loose Whole Hops used All Of Boil

Yeast: East Coast Yeast ECY01 – BugFarm 5

Mash Type: Turbid Mash

Brewday Recap: Dark Mild

roasted-grain-additionLast Sunday I brewed the first dark beer of the year, a Dark Mild. This style is unfortunately a dying style, and is almost unheard of in the US. The best way to describe it is the smaller, gentler brother of a porter or brown ale. It’s usually around 3-4% ABV, and the term “mild” comes from the fact that it’s hopped just enough to balance the beer, leaving the malty caramel and chocolate notes in the forefront.

The total grain bill for this batch was under 7.5 lbs, which is tiny for a 5 gallon batch. These kinds of batches make for a very easy brewday, with small volumes of water to heat, and very easy stirring. They also make for a gentle fermentation after the fact, with worries of blowoff and large heat output kept to a minimum.
dark-mild-runoffI used basically the same recipe as last January, with two small tweaks. First, I used Willamette instead of EKGs, to try to make it more traditional. [Willamette is a Fuggles descendant, which is what I should have used, but didn’t have on hand.] Secondly, I used the sparge-time addition of dark grains technique that I learned about from Gordon Strong to keep the dark grains nice and smooth. I have a feeling I may regret not bumping up the quantity of those grains, as the unfermented wort was really caramelly and not at all roasty, despite 3/4 pound of dark roasted grains. We’ll see what fermentation does to change that, but I suspect it won’t be much.

[Edit 2012/1/23: Fermentation did in fact sharpen up the flavor on this batch, and the roasty character is just perfect. I’m glad I didn’t try to correct it.]
dark-mild-fermentation

I pitched a solid cup of slurry into this beer, and like all the beers I make at this gravity range, fermentation was pretty much done after 3 days. I moved the beer to the cellar to chill out for a few days at 55ºF, and I’ll keg it this weekend, giving it 6-7 days before cold crashing it. I don’t like to give these beers too long on the yeast, because they clean up too much, taking away that “English” character that makes these small beers interesting.

Style: 11A-English Brown Ale-Mild

Recipe Overview

Volume At Pitching: 5.28 US gals
Final Batch Volume: 5.02 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.039 SG
Expected OG: 1.048 SG
Expected FG: 1.012 SG
Expected ABV: 4.6 %
Mash Efficiency: 85.0 %
Boil Duration: 60.0 mins
Fermentation Temperature: 68 degF

Fermentables
UK Pale Ale Malt 7lb 0oz In Mash/Steeped
UK Medium Crystal 12.00 oz In Mash/Steeped
UK Dark Crystal 8.00 oz  In Mash/Steeped
UK Chocolate Malt (500 EBC) 8.00 oz
UK Roast Barley 4.00 oz

Hops
US Willamette (4.9 % alpha) 0.85 oz Loose Pellet Hops used First Wort Hopped

Yeast: Wyeast 1318-London Ale III

Extra-Ordinary Bitter

extra-ordinary-bitter

Just a quick write-up on yesterday’s brew…

Since last year’s vow of small beers (under 5%), I’ve become a little obsessed with a good English bitter, something that’s a bit of a rarity this side of the Atlantic. Yesterday’s was the lowest grain volume I’ve used, and also the 3rd batch in a row with really excellent efficiency (I hit 80% on this batch). I’ve achieved this by stirring thoroughly part-way through the mash, at the mash-out infusion, and at the second batch sparge infusion, not by adjusting my grind or increasing my sparge rate, which feels like a good way to go about doing it.

Pretty simple recipe, the only variation is that I subbed part of the 2-row base with wheat malt, just so that I could brew it with ingredients I had on-hand. I’ve become enamored with this particular combination of crystal malts in a bitter, just scaling up and down the base malt.

Style: 8A-English Pale Ale-Standard/Ordinary Bitter
Recipe Overview

Wort Volume Before Boil: 6.60 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 5.25 US gals
Final Batch Volume: 5.02 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.030 SG
Expected OG: 1.038 SG
Expected FG: 1.010 SG
Expected ABV: 3.7 %
Expected ABW: 2.9 %
Expected IBU (using Daniels): 26.8
Expected Color: 11.1 SRM
Apparent Attenuation: 72.9 %
Mash Efficiency: 80.0 %
Boil Duration: 60.0 mins
Fermentation Temperature: 64 degF

Fermentables
UK Pale Ale Malt 5lb 0oz (73.4 %) In Mash/Steeped
German Wheat Malt 1lb 0oz (14.7 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Dark Crystal 8.00 oz (7.3 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Medium Crystal 4.00 oz (3.7 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Chocolate Malt 1.00 oz (0.9 %) In Mash/Steeped

Hops
UK Golding (4.9 % alpha) 1.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used First Wort Hopped
UK Golding (4.9 % alpha) 0.50 oz Loose Pellet Hops used 25 Min From End
UK Golding (4.9 % alpha) 1.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used At turn off

Yeast: Wyeast 1318-London Ale III

Mash Schedule
Mash Type: Full Mash
Schedule Name:Single Step Infusion (66C/151F)
Step: Rest at 151 degF for 60 mins

Homemade Sourdough Pretzels

It’s not really beer, but it’s sort of related, right?

I’ve been talking the big talk about how I’m going to learn to make my own soft pretzels, and yesterday, I did. It took a bit of searching online to try to find some consistency in recipes, and in the end, I borrowed a bit from here and there, as none of them really gave me what I wanted.
sourdough-starterI began with a fed sourdough starter – meaning I took it out of the refrigerator and bled it and fed it each day from Tuesday until Friday, on which day, I made a dough from 5.5 cups of flour, the 2 cup starter, and 1 cup of hot water mixed with 2 Tbs of margarine, 3 Tbs of brown sugar, and 2 tsp salt. It made a really stiff dough, and there was a lot left on the counter when I was done. I need to work on getting more of the flour in the dough next time.

I let it rise all day, giving it about 8 hours to rise. I ended up putting it down by our wood stove to give it some more heat, I think at 68F it would have taken all night too.
finished-sourdough-pretzelsAfter rising, I cut the dough into egg-sized balls, which we then rolled out into the standard pretzel shapes. These were boiled in water that had a hefty amount of baking soda added, and I boiled each pretzel for at least 60 seconds (I wanted them really chewy). Be careful when you do this – they like to try to stick to the bottom of the pot. They were then heavily salted, and placed on cookie sheets.

They were then baked at 450F for 30 minutes, approximately. Recipes varied with time, so I checked on them every 10-15 minutes.

They cooled on a rack, and we devoured them with great delight, slathered with mustard.

To sum up:

  • 2C fed starter
  • 1 C hot water mixed with
    • 2 T margarine (or butter)
    • 3 T brown sugar
    • 2 t salt
  • 5.5 C flour

Boil each pretzel for 30 seconds (or more) after floating. Salt, then bake at 450F for 25-30 minutes.

Brewday: American Saison

I’ve had a long-term love/hate relationship with Belgian beers, but this year I fell in love with Saisons. They’re often everything you don’t find in a typical Belgian beer, hoppy, dry and bitter [Note: I know there are some Belgian beers like this, calm down]. I made a Saison last fall (2010) with the Wyeast 3711 strain, and found it enjoyable, but nothing like the ECY03 strain. I made an admittedly over-the-top Saison this summer (be careful with your ABV calculations with a beer that attenuates 90%+), which was really good once the heat of the summer went away, and since that keg kicked, I’ve been planning it’s return.

This summer’s Saison was around 8% ABV, which is too big for me, especially in the summer, so today’s Saison is targeted for 5.4%. The Saison I made this summer was bittered with Columbus hops, and dry-hopped with Centennial. Today’s was bittered with Centennial, and got a flameout addition of Centennial and Amarillo. I’m planning to keg-hop it with whole-leaf Cascade hops, but we’ll see about that when it comes time to keg.
ecy03-starter

Since East Coast Yeast is so hard to find, I made sure to save my yeast from this summer, and last week I washed it and made a starter. Sure enough, there was life in the starter after less than 24 hours. I crashed and decanted, then fed it with some cooled second runnings this morning to wake it back up. That yeast did not disappoint, and within an hour there was a krausen forming in the starter.

As there’s Brettanomyces in this particular blend of microbes, I’m not sure how long I’m going to let it sit in primary before packaging it, only my nose can tell. I’m looking for a little Brett character, but not too much.
american-saison-brewdayToday also marked the first brewday with outdoor temps below freezing. It was 10ºF outside when I started, and we peaked at around 20ºF mid-day, which didn’t do me much good, because by then, I was trying to use the outdoor ambient temps to cool my wort. A good reminder that I need to get a manageable hose set up indoors to run my wort chiller through the seemingly longest season of the year in Maine. The steam dumping out of the boil kettle is from wort that’s not even close to boiling yet.

Recipe: 2011 Saison w/Brett (ECY03)
Style: 16C-Belgian And French Ale-Saison

Recipe Overview

Wort Volume Before Boil: 7.0 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 5.25 US gals
Volume At Pitching: 5.25 US gals
Final Batch Volume: 5.0 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.041 SG
Expected OG: 1.051 SG
Expected FG: 1.010 SG
Expected ABV: 5.4 %
Expected ABW: 4.3 %
Expected IBU (using Daniels): 44.5
Expected Color: 5 SRM
Apparent Attenuation: 79.9 %
Mash Efficiency: 70.0 %
Boil Duration: 60.0 mins
Fermentation Temperature: 76 degF

Fermentables
German Wheat Malt 4lb 3oz (41.1 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Pale Ale Malt 4lb 0oz (39.2 %) In Mash/Steeped
German Munich Malt 2lb 0oz (19.6 %) In Mash/Steeped

Hops
US Centennial (8.5 % alpha) 0.75 oz Loose Pellet Hops used First Wort Hopped
US Centennial (8.5 % alpha) 0.75 oz Loose Pellet Hops used 15 Min From End
US Amarillo (5.0 % alpha) 1.80 oz Loose Whole Hops used 1 Min From End

Yeast: East Coast Yeast 03 – Farmhouse Saison

Mash Schedule
Mash Type: Full Mash
Schedule Name:Single Step Infusion (66C/151F)
Step: Rest at 151 degF for 90 mins

Update:
12/25/11: Gravity reading of 1.004 (92.5% attenuation)
12/26/11: Kegged with 1/2 cup priming sugar